Are all types (strains) of friendly bacteria the same?
Absolutely not! Different probiotic species and strains have been shown to have unique properties and exert their effects in different parts of the intestines, so it is important with probiotics to select a potent formula containing particular strains that support your specific health needs.
When purchasing probiotics it is recommended to choose a formula with guaranteed viability of probiotic strains, that have been well-researched and documented in their ability to survive the acidic stomach environment and bile salts. Research should also give evidence that the bacteria is able to proliferate well and colonise in the upper and lower intestines where they exert their probiotic benefits.
Probiotic Strains in Depth
Probiotics are normally made up of a genus or family (e.g. Lactobacillus), a species (e.g. rhamnosus), and then a strain (e.g. Rosell-11). Whilst the genus and species tells us a bit about its properties and where the probiotic settles in the body, it is the probiotic strain itself which determines the volume of research behind a particular probiotic. For example, L. acidophilus is generally accepted to be a good probiotic species; however looking into the specific strains such as NCFM® or Rosell-52 allows us to determine which types of acidophilus have been clinically tested in which situations. Find out more about acidophilus here.
To go even deeper, please have a read of our page dedicated to 'The Cure-All Myth'.
You might also want to explore 'The Strain Myth'.
This FAQ has been answered by Kerry Beeson, BSc (Nut.Med) Nutritional Therapist.